Trouble at Reading Festival

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Janusz Jasinski | 11 January 2010

Right, let’s be very clear from the outset. It’s nothing like being on the frontline in Afghanistan or going on a night out in Cardiff but the trouble at Reading and Leeds causes lots of problems for festival-goers and nearby residents alike.

This is the usual cycle of events:
1. Festival occurs
2. Trouble occurs
3. Lots of people get angry about it
4. The media pick up on it and write about it
5. Festival Republic say there is no problem but will try harder next year anyway
6. Go back to step one

This is what it feels like. The trouble never gets sorted. They are fire fighting constantly (please excuse the pun), people are not looking at the core issues. They aren’t resolving the problem whatsoever.

I won’t go into all the issues that Reading and Leeds face purely because I am too lazy but also because there is a thing called Google that will help you. However what Google won’t show is what should be done.

So what’s the difference/problem?

Right, let’s start off by looking at some of the other festivals in the UK. Download, Sonisphere, Glastonbury, V Festival, T in the Park. Granted, some may have had issues but not every year and definitely not to the scale that Reading and Leeds have become accustomed to.

I genuinely think the music has the largest part to play. Sure, we can get excited over Rage Against The Machine, Queens Of The Stone Age, Faith No More, Metallica but a few drops of genius in an ocean of talentless fashion-led posers isn’t enough to deter fashion victims that believe NME is their bible. People don’t go to Reading Festival for the music anymore, they go to keep up appearances. I stood amongst a lot of people when Them Crooked Vultures played and to hear so many ask “Who’s the old bloke playing bass” or “Who’s that ginger dude on guitar” sickened me to the core, and I don’t even get sick watching Dancing on Ice. If people don’t go for the music and establish legends of rock music then how can they appreciate the festival? People who go to Download or Sonisphere know the bands, know the music and are more tolerant.

Anyone going to the festival for a few years now can only see the ages getting younger and younger, even a blind man on a galloping horse could see that. Am I blaming youth? No, not entirely. A weekend away from the control of their parents to celebrate 347 A grades at GCSE and a  chance to show your mates you can drink a can of cider and not throw up, all add up eventually to a big mess. Add mass amounts of alcohol and God knows what else into the mix, does not make for a pleasant experience. Kids and alcohol don’t mix well and Reading/Leeds is a great example of that.

So kids are to blame right? Nope, although I strongly feel they are a factor. People in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s also screw around but back in the day, they didn’t (at least not to such a noticeable length). Why is this? Lord knows. Maybe Reading has now got a reputation that’s hard to shed so people feel it’s needed in some sort of demented reasoning that would even baffle Jeremy Kyle.

Income is more disposable nowadays, especially if mummy and daddy pay for your tent. So why should you bother bringing it back when it’s just going to be heavy? It’ll be easier to burn it right and look cool in front of your mates right? Do us a favour, when you burn the tent, stay in it, and as for this so called “Angry Mob”, don’t make me laugh. You’re hardly angry and nowhere near a mob. A more accurate tag would be “Several prepubescent  twats hoping their voice will break in time to get off with some lady by walking around trying to look mean” but I guess Facebook doesn’t allow such long group names nowadays.

Do you know how easy it is to enter Reading without producing a ticket or actually wanting to listen to music? Let me tell you, it’s insanely easy. Some people leaving on the Sunday sell their wristbands to the local scallywags for a five who in turn come to the festival and make profit within hours. Who’s to say these idiots don’t cause much of the trouble on Sunday?

So what to do?

Here’s an idea, how about enforcing some proper penalties? Guess what, this is there the Glastonbury-style ticketing system comes in. As each person is associated with their wristband, you simply get their wristband and ban them from any future events. Heck, ban everyone else that bought tickets with them. You’d be more likely to look after mates.

Be more strict on underage drinking. Listen, I’m no scrooge and whilst I will not suggest every child can drink alcohol at Reading, I sure as hell don’t want them out of their heads. If this means a zero tolerance on underage drinking then so be it. Reading Festival is not outside the law and never will be. Why even bother trying to tackle people smoking cannabis, what’s the worst they could do? Sleep? Steal some crisps? Sleep some more?

So what are you saying?

There’s no one problem to tackle at Reading and Leeds. Underage drinking, mediocre security, no real penalties, young demographic and awful shift in music are the main ones. These will not be sorted quickly.

So why not just implement a Glastonbury-style ticketing system and at least we can see the type of people being ejected so we can figure out what to do.

Janusz Jasinski

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